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Humanities Computing Lab

SOAS, University of London

The Wa Language Corpus

Search current Wa corpus

List of texts which currently comprise the searched corpus


The project has sought to build a significant collection of Wa-language materials in digital form. A roman-alphabet orthography developed in China in the 1950s has been used to produce school readers, a few dozen books on topics such as cultural traditions and customs, agriculture, Wa herbal medicine, folk tales, history and Chinese politics, and some lexicographical resources: Yan Qixiang et al. eds., Pug lāi cix ding yīie si ndong lāi vax mai lāi hox / Wa-Han jianming cidian 佤汉简明词典 [Concise Wa-Chinese Dictionary] (1981); Qiu Efeng et al. eds., Ci dian xue sheng lāi vax mai lāi hox / Wa-Han xuesheng cidian 佤汉学生词典 [Student's Dictionary of Chinese] (1987); Wang Jingliu et al. eds, Loux Gāb Vax / Wayu shuyu huishi 佤语熟语汇释 [Compendium of Wa Idioms] (1992). The collection amounts to some 7,000 book pages.

A second body of texts, totaling 1000-2000 book pages, consisting mostly of Biblical or other Christian texts, has been produced using M. Vincent Young's original Bible orthography and its subsequent revisions.

In addition, some speech recordings have already been made, and more are being commissioned during the life of this project.

The printed material is generally no longer available, and very little of it has existed in digital form. (One exception is the Wa translation of the Old Testament, published in 2005 by the Divine Inheritance Foundation, founded by Marcus Young.) The small body of linguistic literature on Wa, including the dictionaries, is in Chinese, with the exception of a very few articles and monographs on phonetics and comparative philology. Data on Wa are so scarce that Gérard Diffloth's published comparative work (The Wa Languages, Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 5.2, 1980) had to turn to sketchy colonial descriptions a century old for data in some dialects.

The works referred to above and more are cited in full in the list of published material in or about Wa and some closely-related Palaungic languages.

Text samples encoded using XML

The following texts are encoded in XML using the text-critical subset of the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative's DTD (Document Type Definition). They can be displayed in two different styles, using two different XSLT stylesheets. One experimentally uses the "Versioning Engine" v2.0 from MITH (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities). In this style, parallel texts in different Wa orthographies, and additionally in Burmese, Chinese, English, or IPA, are displayed in side-by-side columns, with extensive formatting and other features, based on the information in the XML file. Visit the general index page for our Versioning Machine server for further information and the complete selection of available texts.

In the other style, parallel texts are displayed in interlinear fashion, with minimal formatting.

Other sample texts (XHTML-encoded or PDF)

The evolving corpus of Wa language texts

List of texts which currently comprise the searched corpus

Search current Wa corpus

Arts and Humanities Research Council School of Oriental and African Studies

The Wa Dictionary Project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and hosted at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Please send suggestions, queries or comments to Justin Watkins or Richard Kunst.